Today is Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2019

Department of

Radiation Oncology - Takiar & Wise-Draper Laboratory


Lab Members


Christina Wicker, MS, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Wicker obtained her undergraduate degree in Biology as well as her master's degree in Neuroscience and Physiology at Wright State University in 2006 and 2008 respectively. During her graduate studies at Wright State University, she identified that the cruciferous vegetable extract benzyl isothiocyanate could sensitize K-Ras mutant, chemotherapeutic-resistant pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell lines to TRAIL induced apoptosis. She later joined the laboratory of Dr. Carolyn Price at the University of Cincinnati where she studied telomere biology. Dr. Wicker then completed her PhD in Toxicology at the University of Kentucky in 2017. There she worked on multiple projects including examining regulation between base excision repair protein, Apurinic/Apyrimidinic Endonculease 1, and tumor suppressor Parkin in glioblastoma multiforme and in cell lines. She is currently working to identify possible mechanisms for radiation resistance in patients with HNSCC in an effort to identify potential biomarkers as well as novel drug treatment targets.

Christina was awarded a 2019 Young Investigator Award from the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine.


Layne Weatherford

Layne Weatherford, BS,PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Layne completed his BS in biology at Michigan State University in 2011 where he worked in a potato pathology lab. Layne then went on to complete his PhD in cancer biology at Wayne State University in 2017. His dissertation focused on ATR, a protein central in the DNA damage response. He studied the roles of ATR in meiosis and cancer. Layne then went on to complete a short postdoc at Vanderbilt University where he studied the Myc oncogene. 

Gulati_Shuchi  white coat

Shuchi Gulati, MD

Assistant Professor Hematology & Oncology

During her Hematology-Oncology fellowship at the University of Cincinnati, Shuchi designed an investigator-initiated trial evaluating the use of Durvalumab in combination with Cetuximab in previously treated metastatic HNSCC patients. She continues to be PI on the study as an Assistant Professor at UC.

KariveduVidhya (HEMONC) with UCH lab coat

Vidhya Karivedu, MD

Hematology & Oncology Fellow

Vidhya is designing a trial to evaluate the combination of PARP and PD-1 inhibition in Recurrent/Metastatic HNSCC and the effect on patients with increased tumor mutational burden and DNA Repair Defects.


Jennifer Leddon, MD, PhD

Hematology & Oncology Fellow

Jennifer is interested in characterizing changes in genomic and transcriptional signatures in responders and non-responders to immunotherapy.


Eejung Kim, MD, PhD

Former Internal Medicine Resident

As a University of Cincinnati, Internal Medicine resident, Eejung investigated changes in gene expression signatures following a single dose of neoadjuvant Pembrolizumab (anti-PD-1 therapy) in HNSCC patients. These samples were derived from Dr. Wise-Draper's UCCI-HN-15-01 study evaluating the role of neoadjuvant and adjuvant Pembrolizumab in locally advanced, resectable head and neck cancer. She will begin her fellowship at Yale in 2019.


Rachel Vachon

Research Assistant

Rachel Vachon is a recent graduate of Ball State University where she majored in biology. Her time at Ball State included work with yeast genetics focusing on the ubiquitin-ligase pathway. She comes to UC from Eli Lilly where she served as cooperative learning intern in an oncology lab performing small molecule drug development. Currently, her primary research interests include understanding mechanisms of immunotherapy treatments and mechanisms of resistance to cancer treatments. 


Sarah Palackdharry, MS

Lab Manager

Sarah obtained her undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Illinois in Chicago (2012). She then went on to complete her Masters in Biotechnology at Illinois State University (2016). During her graduate studies, Sarah focused understanding the role of phagocytic B cells in the reptilian immune system. She spent her summers trapping turtles in the Illinois River, taking blood samples, and later isolating peripheral blood mononuclear cells for downstream experiments in the lab. As lab manager of the Takiar Wise-Draper laboratory she helps to ensure the day-to-day runs smoothly. Her research focuses on mechanisms of resistance in head and neck cancer with an interest in immunology and the oncogene DEK.

Hannah Heilman

Hannah Heilman

Undergraduate Student

Hannah is an undergraduate student at the University of Cincinnati in the Class of 2021. She will be receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics, and has a focus on primary prevention of cancer and preventative medicine. With this, she hopes to continue her education and pursue medical school. Hannah joined the lab in January of 2019.


Casey Norman

Undergraduate Student

Casey is an undergraduate student at the University of Cincinnati in the class of 2020. He is studying Biological Sciences with a Psychology minor. Following his undergraduate studies, Casey hopes to further his education by pursuing a career as a Physicians Assistant with a focus in Orthopedics. Casey joined the lab in June of 2018.


McKenzie Crist

Graduate Student

Kenzie is currently a PhD student in the Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine program and joined the lab in April 2019. She received her bachelor's degree in biology from Miami University in 2018 where she studied metabolic disorders as an undergraduate researcher. Her current research focuses on immunological treatments and their mechanisms for head and neck patients.